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Everything You Need to Know About Swimming Pool Covers

swimming pool safety cover installation

If you’ve got a swimming pool, you probably really appreciate the way it’s transformed the way you use your backyard. However, you might not love the maintenance time it’s added to your schedule!

If you’re sick of skimming leaves, you might be wondering if getting a pool cover will solve the problem. Well, it turns out, they can do that, and a whole lot more! So, let’s take a closer look at pool covers, what they do, and why you should consider getting one.

What Is a Pool Cover?

Pool covers are a layer of various kinds of material that are used to cover your pool when it’s not in use. Some pool covers simply float on the surface of the pool and are mainly used to curb evaporation and keep leaves and debris out of the pool. Others attach using various hook type systems and can be used as a safety feature too.

The Different Types of Pool Covers

If you thought you could just go to the hardware store and buy a pool cover, think again! Of course, pool covers are made to fit the specific size and shape of your pool, but there are also different types of pool covers that are designed to do different things. Let’s take a closer look.

Mesh Pool Covers

Mesh pool covers, as the name suggest, are made out of mesh. They’re designed to act a little like a sieve, in that they allow rainwater and snow melt into your pool but keep leaves and debris out.

This kind of cover, when secured properly, can be used as a safety cover too, but it won’t block UV rays and it does allow evaporation. Mesh pool covers are also quite expensive, so they might not fit your budget.

Solid Pool Covers

Solid pool covers are similar to mesh covers in that they block debris from getting into the pool, and when properly secured, they can be used as safety covers. However, unlike mesh covers, there are no perforations in this kind of cover.

This kind of cover does block UV rays, so it will protect your pool liner (if you have one) and will block evaporation. Solid covers cost a little less than a mesh cover, but they don’t usually last as long.

Hybrid Covers

Hybrid pool covers are somewhere between a mesh cover and a solid pool cover.

Hybrid covers let water through, but also block debris and UV rays. They can be used as safety covers when correctly installed. This kind of pool cover is usually the most expensive option though, so they might not be in your budget!

Automatic Pool Covers

Automatic pool covers are the next level in pool cover! These can be hybrid, solid or mesh covers, and when properly installed can be safety covers. They block UV rays, debris and water as do the manual versions of each cover, but they are installed with electronics and motors, so you can use a remote control to open and close them.

This means you never have to do the job of opening or closing your pool again! Of course, the cost does reflect the convenience of automatic pool covers!

Winter Pool Covers

Winter pool covers are the simplest and cheapest option on this list. They’re basically just a tarp that’s sized and shaped for your pool. They block debris and prevent excessive evaporation, but they don’t attach the way the other covers on this list do, so they can’t support weight, and they’re not pool safety covers.

These kinds of pool covers are the most budget-friendly, and the simplest to use, since they install easily, without all the hooks and fittings.

Solar Pool Covers

Solar pool covers often look like very heavy-duty bubble wrap. They usually simply float on the surface of the pool. They are designed, as the name suggests, to trap the heat from the sun in your pool, while blocking UV rays. That means that there is less fading and algae bloom in your pool, and it retains heat better.

Solar pool covers do not attach to your pool – so they are not safety covers for your pool. So, while they might make your pool surface look solid, people and pets can still fall in. Make sure you have adequate pool safety fencing to protect your family if you choose this type of pool cover!

Pool Safety Covers

Mesh, solid or automatic pool covers can be pool safety covers, but there are also some covers that are primarily designed for safety. They might be solid, mesh or something in between, but the key factor is that they are properly secured all around the pool using special kinds of anchors.

This means that when someone like a child or dog walks out over the pool cover by accident, they can’t fall into the pool. It’s important to note that these covers only work properly if they are fully secured. Any unsecured areas are still a danger!

Benefits of Using Pool Covers

Pool covers are a great addition to any backyard pool, and they can significantly reduce the amount of time you have to spend taking care of your pool. Some of the benefits of a pool cover area:

  • Depending on the type of pool cover, they can reduce evaporation of water, which means you will spend less on utilities having to refill your pool frequently
  • Some pool covers also block UV rays, which means the inside of your pool is less likely to fade over time
  • Sunlight is also one of the things that fuels algae growth – so blocking out the sun’s rays can make your pool less prone to algae outbreaks, even with less chemicals
  • Pool covers block leaves and debris from getting into your pool, which means you will spend less time skimming leaves and cleaning your pool
  • Less debris in your pool also means your automatic pool cleaner and pool filter will have less work to do, which will extend their lifespan
  • Pool covers trap heat very effectively, so unheated pools will be naturally warmer when you take the pool cover off, and you will spend less heating pools that do have heating systems
  • Covering your pool when the weather is cold can help to prevent winter damage
  • Depending on the type of pool cover, and how it is secured, your pool cover could be a safety feature that can prevent accidental drowning

Pool Cover Care

Your pool cover will take care of your pool, but you still have to take care of your cover!

When debris and water build-up on pool covers, they can stretch or rot the fabric, and that can damage your pool cover. So, make sure you clear all the built-up water, snow and debris on your pool cover from time to time.

Try to avoid using your pool cover when there are a lot of chemicals in your pool, as these can degrade and damage the fabric.

You should also rinse and dry your pool cover when you take it off for the season. This removes any chemicals and cleans the cover, so it won’t rot or degrade when you store it. There are also special chemicals designed to treat pool covers before they are stored, and Teflon spray products to protect automatic covers.

Features of Pool Covers

The features of your pool cover will depend on the kind of pool cover you have.

Solar and winter pool covers are the simplest options, so they tend to be lightweight and easy to use.

Safety, solid and mesh pool covers that install using hooks and similar fittings fit snugly and offer added security and safety which is great for families.

Automatic pool covers come with motors and remotes, so you never have to lift a finger to cover or uncover your pool.

All pool covers will keep most leaves and other unwanted materials out of your pool, so you spend less time cleaning, and most will ensure your pool is a little warmer when you want to go swimming.

How to Find the Best Pool Cover for Your Pool

Now that you know a little more about pool covers, and why you might want one, it’s probably time to start shopping for one. There are several steps that can make this process easier and more successful.

  • First, know the size and shape of your pool. This will affect the cost of the pool cover because it will determine how much material is required to make your pool cover. If you have the plans or blueprints for your pool, take them along when you start shopping, so the salesperson can get the exact dimensions.
  • You should also know what you want the cover’s primary function to be. Are you mainly looking for safety? Do you want to protect your pool from the extreme cold? Or are you just looking to cut the time you spend cleaning your pool?
  • Next, know what kind of attachment situation there is. Where and how your pool cover can attach will also affect the cost of the cover. Knowing where pool cover hardware can be attached and into what kind of material will help your salesperson to give you an accurate quote.
  • If you already have an idea of what kind of cover you want, you might also want to tell the salesperson you speak to what your preference is. But be open to all the options! Some kinds of pools (like freeform designs) might not be suited to some kinds of pool cover, so ask about all your options.
  • If you are planning to have an automatic pool cover installed, make sure you have power available near the pool. Most pools have their pumps and filters close by, so there’s probably a power supply for the pool cover motor, but you might still need to get some electrical work done!
  • If you have any design preferences, like colors or anything similar, you can mention those too. Pool covers aren’t available in all the colors of the rainbow, but there’s probably one that will work with your outdoor design and décor.
  • Finally, if you have a budget, know what it is. Pool cover costs can vary enormously, so knowing what you can spend will help the salesperson you speak to find an option that meets your needs and is wallet-friendly!

There are nearly as many pool cover options these days as there are pool designs, so there’s sure to be something that meets your needs perfectly.

How Long Do Pool Covers Last?

The last question you might have about pool covers is how long you can expect them to last. While your salesperson can give you a more precise estimate based on the options you choose, you can expect most pool covers to last somewhere between 4 and 6 years.

This does depend on the type of cover you have, how well you care for it, how often you use it and various other factors. It also depends a lot on the quality of the cover you get. The simplest and cheapest solar pool covers might only last one or two years, particularly if you use a lot of chemicals in your pool or it gets a lot of sun.

However, it’s worth noting that pool covers, used correctly, can greatly extend the life of your pool. Since pools are a lot more expensive than pool covers, that’s still a great deal!

Get Professional Pool Advice

We hope this crash course in all things pool cover has helped, but there are probably a few more questions we haven’t covered here. If you’re in the New York area, contact us at Gary’s Pool & Leisure, and our team will be happy to help.

We’ve been providing pools and outdoor living advice, sales and services to the Amherst, Cheektowaga and Clarence areas for a long time, and we’re always happy to help!

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